Let the Democrats win.
Sounds counterintuitive, but that's the apparent strategy the GOP is employing in several key Cook County races this election cycle.
Republicans are canceling a traditional search to tap candidates for county president, treasurer and clerk, among other Democrat-controlled top gigs; instead, the party has decided on a long-game maneuver to let November's county elections go uncontested in an effort to bolster Bruce Rauner's bid for Illinois governor. They reason that Democratic officials, knowing they've already got the job, will be less driven to do voter outreach and get supporters to show up at the ballot box, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, citing GOP insiders.
Three candidates recruited for key posts -- Tondalaya Maria Nelson (clerk), Antonio Mannings (treasurer) and Robert Foss (assessor) -- missed the June 2 deadline to submit the necessary petition signatures that would have ensured a spot on the ballot.
"We actually endorsed a candidate this time around, and that candidate is Bruce Rauner,” Jim Parrilli, a Republican precinct committeeman, told the paper. "Bruce Rauner is where everybody should be focused right now."
Parilli, meanwhile, is running for commissioner of Cook County's Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, a lesser title than that of Preckwinkle. His claim that county Republicans had problems finding qualified contenders for the highest-profile offices has prompted backlash from fellow Republicans like 43rd Ward committeeman Chris Cleveland, who basically called Parilli a traitor to his party.
"Democrats have infiltrated the Republican Party, and they've urged us to lay down and keep quiet. This is offensive beyond belief,” Cleveland sniped. “Any Republican who thinks we shouldn't put Republicans on the ballot is either working for the Democrats, or has a basic misunderstanding of how electoral politics work."
The Cook County Democratic Party's executive director, Scott Cisek, slammed the let-them-win game-plan as underestimating Democrats' ambition to get out the vote and said the party and Preckwinkle will do "anything in their power" to ensure that Rauner does not unseat Gov. Pat Quinn on Nov. 4.
Now that the cat's out of the bag, perhaps it's time for Republicans to come up with a new strategy to boost Rauner in one of the clout-iest counties in Illinois? Or maybe they could all sit down, face facts and 'fess up to the fear that nobody was quite good enough to defeat Preckwinkle amid louder calls for the respected veteran politico to run for Chicago mayor.